A series of GM varieties of wheat and rice are under development by Indian plant breeding company Mahyco (the Maharashtra Hybrid Seed Company) in which the US-based Monsanto holds a 26-per-cent stake.
The developments were recently reported in The Wall Street Journal. The newspaper stated that Mahyco was developing GM wheat and rice with traits that lift yields and build in increased drought, salinity and pest tolerance.
Mahyco’s chief technology officer, Usha Barwale Zehr, is reported to have told the financial information firm Dow Jones that field trials would start in two years.
Mahyco is also reported to have undertaken laboratory tests to develop GM rice with improved nitrogen use efficiency.
One cycle of field trials has reportedly already been undertaken for salinity-tolerant rice and three cycles of a GM rice that is resistant to yellow stem borer. The company’s next step is to obtain permission for large-scale trials in multiple locations.
Mahyco was founded in 1964 by Dr Badrinarayan Ramulal Barwale, who produced the first hybrid corn in 1963-64.
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